Election 2016: Live-Streaming Video of Presidential Race Breaks Internet Record

Todd Spangler

The results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which stretched late into the evening before Donald Trump emerged as the winner, set the record as the biggest single live internet event ever carried by content-delivery network provider Akamai Technologies.

Live video streaming traffic specific to the election peaked at 7.5 terabits per second on the Akamai platform shortly before midnight Eastern on Tuesday, Nov. 8, the company said. That beat the previous record of 7.3 Tbps held by this summer’s European soccer finals.

The coverage of the close race between Trump and Hillary Clinton drew a bigger internet audience than any previous news event. For the sake of comparison, live-streaming video of the first debate between Trump and Clinton on Sept. 26 peaked at 4.4 Tbps in September. In 2009, the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama hit a peak of 1.1 Tbps and the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton hit 1.3 Tbps.

Live video on election night was available on numerous platforms, including YouTube (via the channels of NBC News, PBS, MTV News, Bloomberg, Telemundo and The Young Turks); Twitter, which hosted BuzzFeed’s “Election Night Live” broadcast; Periscope (used by The Ringer, Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” CBS This Morning, Telemundo, Cheddar, SkyNews, Fusion and others); CNN Digital; CBS News’ CBSN; Facebook (whose partners included ABC News, the New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Univision and the Washington Post); USA Today; and Yahoo News.

CNN Digital said it recorded its biggest global audience ever on election day, setting all-time high records in live video with 27.7 million live streams of its “Election Night in America” coverage, peaking at 11:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 8 with 2.34 million concurrent viewers. Total video starts for the day came in at 59 million. CNN.com also notched its most-trafficked day in history, serving 58 million global unique users and 424 million page views of content. On Facebook, CNN saw 76 million interactions, 75 million video views and 41 million Facebook Live views.

CBSN also said its 2016 election day coverage set new viewership records in every category, drawing a record 19.1 million streams and 11.1 million unique viewers from 12 a.m. ET on Nov. 8 through 4 a.m. ET on Nov. 9. That blew away the online-news service’s prior records of 2.98 million streams and 1.4 million unique viewers for coverage of the first presidential debate. CBSN also set a new hourly viewership record, drawing 1.6 million streams from 11 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET, on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Young Turks tallied its largest audience in history with 4.5 million total views over the course of its 13-plus hour broadcast across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, with a peak concurrent audience on YouTube of 132,979. Previously, TYT’s most-watched event was the first presidential debate with 638,298 views.

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